30 April : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

I have been away at the Doñana Bird Fair at Isla Mayor, hence the delay. It was hot but very enjoyable, including being recognised by a chap from the UK who remembered my black labrador Samantha from my Filey Brigg days pre 1980, the best birding dog that I have ever come across. Little birding but plenty of White Storks and a lot of Black Kites at Dehesa de Abajo, plus Greenshank, Pratincole and Marsh Sandpiper at El Rocio. So, herewith the Arboleas report. Note that the pohotos are by Gilly!
It was to our local patch that Gilly and I headed towards on a bright sunny morning. We met up with ten other members on the embankment above the "old ford", Rambla de Almanzora. I relayed the sad news that Val Penny-Stewart's mother had passed away. We send our sincere condolences to Val and Tony. It was then down to birdwatching. 
On the pools near to the opposite bank we could see Black-winged Stilt, Mallard, Common Sandpiper and Moorhen. At that point about a hundred sheep surrounded us. The shepherd appeared to have little control. As the flock eventually made its way down onto the rambla, their rear ends being snapped at by a sheepdog, Colin spotted a Glossy Ibis which flew off to the right. Common Swifts were seen. I then identified a Wood Sandpiper. We began to wander further towards the defunct desalination plant seeing Ringed Plover as well.  
We saw two more waders with yellow legs. It wasn't until we could see their size compared to a Ringed Plover that I realised they were Temminck's Stints. (Alan had seen a pair in the same location a few months ago). Checking Gilly's photo later with "Collins" at my side it was a good view of both plumage variations of summer adults. Carrying on we saw my first Turtle Dove of the year, Little Ringed Plover, Blackbird, a distant Kevin spotted Kestrel and Greenfinch. I spotted an iberiae Yellow Wagtail.
     After a coffee break in Villaricos village we headed down to the beach. At first we could only see a solitary Little Egret on the harbour rocks but eventually Barrie spotted the head of a Cormorant. We walked over the flat barren area to the estuary. We heard a Curlew and here we saw more Common Sandpipers and Ringed Plovers and added Turnstone and Kentish Plover to the wader list. A Grey Heron posed obligingly. Bee-eaters appeared to be nesting in the far sandy cliff. Further towards the beach the Eurasian Curlew was seen as well as Sanderling, Dunlin and a couple of Grey Plovers. Yellow-legged and Audouin's Gull were also seen. Behind us a snorkeller armed with a speargun was showing off a metre wide "Manta" Ray he'd captured. On the rocks we saw solitary Whimbrel, Sandwich Tern and Whiskered Tern. As we got back to the vehicles a flock of at least 100 Greater Flamingos flew over.
Being about the last to leave, Gilly and I were the only ones to see three Night Herons flying over the rambla by the bridge.
     Most of us made our way to the dual carriageway above the lake at Vera. Here we added Black-headed Gull, Coot and Common Pochard to the list. Jan spotted a Little Grebe. A pair of White-headed Duck was also seen as were some more Whiskered Terns. The "resident" Greater Flamingo was still there.  We moved round to the pool opposite the Consum supermarket. Due to golfing commitments, Les Senior has been failing in his reed cutting duties. Swipes with a sand wedge needed, Les, to give better views! Mary and Rod ventured to the pool further along and added a pair of Shoveler to the list.
     Ended up with 45 species. Wader watching at the rambla was great, with great company! 
Photos by Gilly.

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